Poetry release gives Jeremy the Blues

JEREMY Robson would most definitely be considered a connoisseur when it comes to books.

The founder of The Robson Press has published books by hundreds of household names - from David Ben-Gurion and Muhammad Ali to Michael Winner and Joan Collins.

Now, however, he has returned to his roots with his own collection of 60 poems, Blues in the Park (Smokestack Books, £8.95).

Jeremy, who also started the Poetry and Jazz in Concerts events, featuring leading poets and musicians, said: "I went for a long period where I didn't write anything at all.

"My new collection reflects the environment we live in, conflicts and love and death - perennial subjects for poetry.

"Sometimes lines for poems just come into my head, whether I am on the bus or the underground.

"I love being involved with authors - I like to be a creative editor and to be on their side.

"However, I do feel most fulfilled by my own books and poems."

Actress Maureen Lipman joined Jeremy to read from Blues in the Park - which features several Jewish-themed poems - at a Jewish Book Week event on Sunday.

They have also done several sell-out events together, including the Blenheim and Gibraltar literary festivals.

Jeremy was born in Llandudno - his maternal great-grandfather, Morris Wartski, had set up jewellery stores of the same name in North Wales - but was raised in north London.

The son of a Leeds-born doctor, Joseph Robson, Jeremy read law, but gave it up, and went into journalism for a year, before he "slipped" - as he described it - into publishing.

At 22, Jeremy became an editor at Aldus Books, which had been founded by Viennese Jewish émigré Wolfgang Foges.

In 1964, he went to Israel - on his honeymoon with Egyptian-born wife Carole - to meet the country's first prime minister Ben-Gurion.

He had been commissioned to write Jews In Their Land.

Jeremy recalled: "I was asked to go to his home in Sde Boker and spent a little time with him.

"I knew his wife, Paula, was quite confrontational and that a few editors had been thrown out of their home.

"Luckily, she was in hospital with a broken leg.

"Ben-Gurion asked Carole where she came from and when she said Egypt, he replied, 'Ah, the land of Moses' and he started talking to her.

"After an hour, I said, 'What about the text?' and he answered, 'Well, your English is better than mine, let's go and have lunch'."

Jeremy had met Carole at a party in London.

Her family moved to England during the 1956 Suez Crisis, when the majority of Egypt's Jewish community left.

"I was immediately struck by her exotic beauty," Jeremy added.

Jeremy, who describes himself as having "a long and passionate affair with Israel", took poets Ted Hughes, Peter Porter, DJ Enright and Dannie Abse on a British Council poetry-reading tour of the Jewish state in the 1970s.

He remembered: "Ted Hughes was besotted with Israel and even thought of buying a house in Jerusalem."

After a spell with Vallentine, Mitchell and the Woburn press, where he published The Goons Show scripts, Jeremy launched his company, Robson Books.

He set up The Robson Press, as an imprint of Biteback, in May, 2011.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-three also introduced boxing legend Muhammad Ali to British Reform rabbi Hugo Gryn, while Jeremy accompanied him on a promotional book tour.

"They had a private conversation about the Bible," Arsenal fan Jeremy continued.

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